The Paleolithic lifestyle (a.k.a. caveman, a.k.a. primal) has existed for tens of thousands of years. This is not a new thing. It’s only new in that it’s been rediscovered.
Our ancestors were all living paleo 10,000 years ago. That’s to say that they were hunter-gatherers and not agriculturalists. In practice, this meant their diets consisted of meat, seeds and nuts and limited amounts of plants. Whatever was edible was eaten. Sugar consumption was limited to the odd seasonal fruits that could be found.
It also meant that our ancestors were very active. They had to follow the food: walking from place to place in search of animals to hunt, nuts to gather and plants to eat. Occasionally, hunter-gatherers needed to run: chase animals to kill or run from animals trying to kill them.
So what changed for all of our ancestors over the last 10,000 years? Depending on the time and place, hunter-gatherers adopted agriculture, became more sedentary and started to consume far more carbohydrates in the form of grasses (wheat, barley, rice, etc.).
Fast forward to today: there are no hunter-gatherers left except for a few tribes in the Amazon perhaps. Carbohydrate consumption has only increased for most of the human race, where the majority of one’s calories comes from carbs.
What’s more, people today don’t just get carbs from grasses or root vegetables. No, the human race has become addicted to sugar. Until a 150 years ago, sugar was a luxury that only the well-off could afford with any regularity. However, due to increasing productivity, innovation and the division of labour, sugar has become so cheap that even the poorest can afford it.
The result? Sugar and its derivatives are everywhere and in almost everything.
Conventional wisdom tells this is all fine. One’s diet should be complex carbs, moderate amounts of lean protein and very limited fats. Sugar? Fine but only as a treat…every day! Food-based products loaded with chemicals, dyes and preservatives? Fine! Nothing to see here.
Where has this 10,000 year process led to: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, poor health, etc. are all around us. True, hardly anyone starves today because carbohydrates are so cheap, but their consumption has led to the explosion in bad health and disease.
There is another way
We can’t go back to being hunter-gatherers. Paleo-man and paleo-woman needed a lot of land to live on. Indeed, even if we could wave a wand and return to this way of life, it would mean the end of civilisation, and the death of 99% of the human race.
The thing is, no one needs to go back to being hunter-gatherers to gain the benefits of that ancestral lifestyle. The principles of the paleo-lifestyle are simple and easy to follow once one breaks free of carbohydrate dependency.
The above food pyramid speaks for itself. I would only stress that processed foods should be avoided on this diet. Organic is preferable.
Lift Heavy Things
Our ancestors had to work hard to survive. That meant lifting heavy things from time-to-time. The paleo-lifestyle adopts the same principle. Using one’s own bodyweight lift heavy things. These are simple movements that cost nothing: press-ups, planks, sit-ups, squats, lunges and pull ups.
Walk a Lot, Run a Little
Paleos argue we weren’t made to jog four or five days a week. That’s not what our ancestors did. They mainly walked a lot from place to place and occasionally ran to hunt or to escape predators. We should walk several miles a few days per week and do some sprints once a week.